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20-08-2019, 17:42   #1
briany
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Ireland in the UK: 1801 - 1922. What was the layperson's perspective?

Because I'd always thought of Irish independence movements and resistance to British governance in the 19th century as being something led by those from the middle classes who had the time and resources to read and formulate this idea of Irish nationhood.

But what of the lowlier citizens of the land, from whom later would come a groundswell of support? On the one hand, the oft-told account is that Pearse was greeted with a certain degree of derision and bemusement when standing outside the GPO reading the Proclamation, but that opinion shifted when word broke of the harsh treatment of Republican prisoners. Was that the whole tale, or was there also an element of the seeds of discontent coming to fruition throughout the island? Or was it more to do with the revolutionary fervour that had been sweeping Europe anyway?

Back to an earlier time, do we know what the ordinary man's general opinion of becoming part of the union was? How much did opinion vary throughout Ireland? Was there even an opinion, or was it more a case of one government being much the same as any other?
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21-08-2019, 02:39   #2
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The question dominated Irish politics throughout the nineteenth century - at least, after Catholic emancipation got settled, which was in 1829. You may remember that O'Connell then lead the Repeal movement, which sought to repeal the Act of Union and restore an Irish parliament. This was definitely a bottom-up movement - it had a huge membership, and ran enormous mass meetings - but had limited electoral traction because only a small, and relatively wealthy, section of the population could vote. What this suggests is that nationalist politics was, if anything, more popular with the lower classes than with the upper classes.

This is confirmed by experience once the Reform Act of 1867 greatly broadened the franchise. From that point on, outside Ulster, nationalism totally dominated Irish politics. There was a divide, of course, between constitutional nationalists and more militant nationalists, but that divide was much more blurred than it became later - at one point, nearly half of Parnellite MPs were also sworn members of the Fenian Brotherhood.

The dominance of nationalism is perhaps overstated by the first-past-the-post electoral system in use at the time. There were unionists in every part of Ireland but, outside Ulster and parts of Dublin, they were never going to win many elections, and they often didn't try very hard. They exerted influence instead through lobbying politicians and government in Westminster, and through over-representation in the Dublin Castle administration in Ireland.
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21-08-2019, 11:23   #3
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And along side that, the newspaper reports of Queen Victoria's and King Edward's visits show they were met by big crowds who were largely peaceful & cheery.
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21-08-2019, 12:25   #4
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And along side that, the newspaper reports of Queen Victoria's and King Edward's visits show they were met by big crowds who were largely peaceful & cheery.
I think irish people are probably fairly similar now to then... Once an event gets talked about positively enough , then most will row in behind it, just to have a look...
So think the popes visit in 1980, (as opposed to last year), or the garth Brooks concert it got massive hype, so huge numbers were prepared to pay big enough money to go, but when it was cancelled it wasnt really life changing for most..
Ór even the British army reception in Belfast when they first landed on the streets 50 years ago.. Followed by the rioting 6 or so months later (slightly different I know)
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21-08-2019, 17:57   #5
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And along side that, the newspaper reports of Queen Victoria's and King Edward's visits show they were met by big crowds who were largely peaceful & cheery.
Any major celebrity visiting town draws crowds of onlookers coming for a nosey, same then as now.
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22-08-2019, 03:14   #6
Peregrinus
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And along side that, the newspaper reports of Queen Victoria's and King Edward's visits show they were met by big crowds who were largely peaceful & cheery.
Nationalism and republicanism were not the same thing in the nineteenth century. Remember most of the new nation-states emerging in Europe in the 19th century were monarchies - Greece, Belgium, Germany, Italy - and (constitutional) monarchy was the default preference of most social conservatives and moderate liberals. While the Fenians adopted an explicitly republican model of independence, the Home Rule Party and constitutional nationalists generally mostly did not. If Ireland had its own parliament and its own government, the fact that it shared a king with Britain was not a fundamental problem for them. And there was at least a section of constitutional nationalism which saw this as a positive - Ireland's participation, as a independent nation, in the British empire would be the way in which it would exert its influence and make its mark on the international stage.
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23-08-2019, 10:10   #7
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I’d contend that most Irish ‘Republicans’ of 19th c Ireland had no real understanding of its true meaning & tenets. Nationalism was not radicalised until British mishandling of 1916 and the subsequent atrocities by troops/Black & Tans e.g. Listowel, Tralee, Mallow, Cork and the targeting of the creameries. ‘Irish separatist nationalism’ (as opposed to plain ‘nationalism’) was absent until 1916.

Pinky’s comment on Victoria’s visit did not equate Nationalism with Republicanism. During Victoria’s visits the Irish fell over trying to outdo each other with loyal addresses and proclamations, from Corporations to Guilds to Clergy (Established and RCC). In her 1849 visit Victoria came by royal yacht to Cork, where the Corporation was Nationalist-controlled. There was no trouble even though Clarendon, the Lord Lieut. feared it; he called the Corpo +/-‘the greatest pack of ruffians ever , worse than those in Dublin’. The 1849 Young Irelander Rebellion had come and gone, the Famine was not yet over, although in its final days people were still dying and many workhouses were full. Despite this the streets were thronged with ordinary folk cheering and welcoming her. There were more shamrocks and harps than St. Patrick’s Day in NYC, there were banners with ‘Cead Mile Fáilte’ – when she went to Belfast even the offices of the ultra-Protestant and conservative ‘Belfast Newsletter’ had one in Irish.

Fifty years later, 1900 just prior to her visit, there were countless ‘welcome committees’ established throughout the country with public subscriptions to defray expenses – the fireworks bill at Kingstown was more than £200 (or an income value of about £130k in today’s terms). That year her reception was much the same, but in addition to banners there were several ‘triumphal arches’ strategically placed in Dublin, lit by hundreds of bulbs, electricity being the ‘new thing’ at the time. One was at a canal bridge (Leeson St?), another was on Nassau St.: several business premises also decorated / lit their shopfronts and the top architects and engineers of the day were hired to design them.

By today’s standards the events and language used were sycophantic toadyism and extremely cringeworthy. Irish nationalism was absent.
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23-08-2019, 10:24   #8
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Not doubting you, but what's the basis for saying that the Corporation of Cork was "nationalist-controlled" in 1849?
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23-08-2019, 11:55   #9
pedroeibar1
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Not doubting you, but what's the basis for saying that the Corporation of Cork was "nationalist-controlled" in 1849?
I think I originally got it in David Dickson’s book (Old World Colony – Cork) which I don’t have access to at the moment. I’ve researched several Cork events 1850ish that +/- coincided with that royal visit (a case involving a clemency appeal to Clarendon on a Judge Jackson death sentence – Jackson was in Cork for the Assizes; Kerry family of Dora Jordan nee Bland of Derryquin the actress mistress of William IV – their illegitimate son FitzClarence (thus Vicky’s cousin) commanded the Royal yacht at the time of the Royal visit; another RN officer who was in Cove in the 1840’s.)

It’s also mentioned on a QUB page.

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Claredon’s relief related to the queen’s visit to Cork, where the royal yacht anchored on the nights of 3 and 4 August, and Dublin, where she stayed for a further six days. As a result of the municipal reform act of 1840, both towns were under the control of nationalist councils. Clarendon, indeed, called Cork’s municipal authority ‘the most notorious ruffians in Ireland, worse even than their brethren of Dublin’.
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23-08-2019, 12:08   #10
 
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I’d contend that most Irish ‘Republicans’ of 19th c Ireland had no real understanding of its true meaning & tenets. Nationalism was not radicalised until British mishandling of 1916 and the subsequent atrocities by troops/Black & Tans e.g. Listowel, Tralee, Mallow, Cork and the targeting of the creameries. ‘Irish separatist nationalism’ (as opposed to plain ‘nationalism’) was absent until 1916.

Pinky’s comment on Victoria’s visit did not equate Nationalism with Republicanism. During Victoria’s visits the Irish fell over trying to outdo each other with loyal addresses and proclamations, from Corporations to Guilds to Clergy (Established and RCC). In her 1849 visit Victoria came by royal yacht to Cork, where the Corporation was Nationalist-controlled. There was no trouble even though Clarendon, the Lord Lieut. feared it; he called the Corpo +/-‘the greatest pack of ruffians ever , worse than those in Dublin’. The 1849 Young Irelander Rebellion had come and gone, the Famine was not yet over, although in its final days people were still dying and many workhouses were full. Despite this the streets were thronged with ordinary folk cheering and welcoming her. There were more shamrocks and harps than St. Patrick’s Day in NYC, there were banners with ‘Cead Mile Fáilte’ – when she went to Belfast even the offices of the ultra-Protestant and conservative ‘Belfast Newsletter’ had one in Irish.

Fifty years later, 1900 just prior to her visit, there were countless ‘welcome committees’ established throughout the country with public subscriptions to defray expenses – the fireworks bill at Kingstown was more than £200 (or an income value of about £130k in today’s terms). That year her reception was much the same, but in addition to banners there were several ‘triumphal arches’ strategically placed in Dublin, lit by hundreds of bulbs, electricity being the ‘new thing’ at the time. One was at a canal bridge (Leeson St?), another was on Nassau St.: several business premises also decorated / lit their shopfronts and the top architects and engineers of the day were hired to design them.

By today’s standards the events and language used were sycophantic toadyism and extremely cringeworthy. Irish nationalism was absent.
Was it? You sure there was no criticism of the visit anywhere in nationalist periodicals or newspapers?

In any case nationalism at the time was home rule nationalism - meaning home rule within the U.K. which would have kept the monarchy. In fact even Sinn Fein supported a dual monarchy not a republic to begin with.
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23-08-2019, 13:25   #11
pedroeibar1
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Was it? You sure there was no criticism of the visit anywhere in nationalist periodicals or newspapers?

In any case nationalism at the time was home rule nationalism - meaning home rule within the U.K. which would have kept the monarchy. In fact even Sinn Fein supported a dual monarchy not a republic to begin with.

As I said above my knowledge is ‘incidental’ as I was researching other items (1849-50), not the royal visit. Most of that research was in the newspaper archives where I never saw a report of a protest. Not one. There were many mentions of ‘our ancient right of self-rule’ but never one suggesting a constitutional change or any curtailment of the sovereignty of the monarch.
Typical of the era is the Freemans Journal of 9 August 1849 “The more the citizens of Dublin see of Queen Victoria, the more she wins their affections, and the warmer becomes their feelings towards her.”
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